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Old January 14th, 2010, 01:18 PM   #16
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If you decide to go the route of recording to your PC (or is it a Mac???) I would think in terms of getting an XLR to USB interface like the Centrance Mic Port Pro and a reasonably good XLR mic in preference to getting a USB mic. I think you have a lot more choices of better microphones this way. I use a Rode NT2-A for the little VO or spoken audio that I do and I've been happy with it so far. There are better mics out there, but this has worked OK for me.

The sky's the limit in so far as what you can spend on mics and audio interfaces, but I'm satisfied with what I have - for what I do.

I'd think in terms of using a reasonably priced XLR - USB interface like the Mic Port because you can spend more of your budget for a mic this way, and I think the mic is probably the best place to put equipment money - the higher end interfaces can come later, maybe for your next project.

I think in order of importance the things to think about are

1) Talent

2) Environment (room, mic placement etc)

3) Mic

4) Everything else

By the way - will the presenter be male or female? It can influence both mic choice and placement. A mic that sounds great (ie gives the kind of result you're after) for a guy may not sound so great for a girl.

Take a look/listen at As I Hear It - Choosing the Right Microphone
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Old January 14th, 2010, 01:43 PM   #17
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Laptops are portable. Not as portable as a field recorder, but not fixed, like a desktop.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 02:22 PM   #18
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If you're going a distance away from your main desktop computer, why bother with a laptop and peripherals? A small field recorder with a decent mic-pre would suffice.
- If your going to be recording mostly a single speaker, record in a mono mode The Marantz portables can do this this, most other portables do not.
- 44.1/16bit is more than sufficient for spoken word... though 24bit is better if you record with ridiculous amounts of headroom.

A quiet room is essential. Unfortunately, many office buildings I've been in, the HVAC can not be shut down in a single room or even floor.
That said, conference rooms can be good if they are carpeted and have plush furniture. Just through a moving blanket on the table.

My .02 cents.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 03:17 PM   #19
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Jim, have you had much luck with USB audio interfaces? Everyone I've tried has not been robust enough for multichannel recording. Even thought in theory there should be more bandwidth with USB2 vs. Firewire 400 it just seems that the FW devices work better.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 01:40 AM   #20
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I have to admit that I usually record to an SD 702 or through a F/W interface for multi channel - I was thinking specifically of the little MicPort Pro USB interface in terms of being a nice portable way of attaching a good mic to something like a MacBook or Windows laptop if the OP wanted to spend more of the equipment budget on a higher grade mic and less on recorder etc.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 01:56 AM   #21
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Ok. I was just wondering something had changed recently with USB devices. I agree that it would be better to put more toward a better mic than spend more on the interface.

I don't have any experience with the MicPort. I do have an inexpensive Alesis FW mixer that I use to record with sometimes with some Rode mics. It does a pretty decent job of taking 8 channels in and allowing me to record to my laptop.

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Old January 15th, 2010, 02:15 AM   #22
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The mic port is a pretty simple little gadget about an inch in diameter and a few inches long - it has XLR on one side and USB on the other and attaches one mic to the USB port. It provides phantom power and all in all I think it's a better idea than buying a USB mic because it gives greater choice of better mics.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 02:31 AM   #23
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Wow Jim. I just looked it up. Looks like a pretty cool little device especially if you already have a good quality mic.

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Old January 15th, 2010, 04:19 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Sanchez View Post
Okay Anthony I'm starting to see where you are going with this and I see the ease with which I can record and edit the voice overs for the Power Point stuff.

But, one more thing, is that at some point this year we are going to record video and audio at the same time. Will this set up be okay to record instuctors teaching a lesson or will I need to go with the lavalier mics for that?

Thanks again,

Andy
Start with something compact, easy and nice: Sony M10, Olympus LS11, Edirol R09HR. I didn't got any of these in my hands yet, but according to my experience with their predecessors: Sony D50, Olympus LS10, and Edirol R09, I believe any one of these few could be your stepping stone.

All these recorders provide "plug-in power" for electret microphones (lavalier is one of the most common version.), and you can use the recorder as if it is a "wireless belt pack" except it don't transmit to somewhere and record. It just record on the talent.

PC based system (USB mic, Audio interfaces...) is like to use a scanner to capture image. Pocket recorder is like P+S camera that is so easy to capture image almost anywhere at anytime.

There're always audio rules to follow, avoid handling noise especially with pocket recorder since you need to operate the device, and it is a vibration sensitive device as well. Better leave it on a stand, or shock proof foam on the table... Always listen, at least at the very beginning of each recording.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 12:16 PM   #25
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Stop the bus!

While all the advice so far is good, I don't think that ANY of it comprehends your original stated production flow, particularly using the Wondershare PPT2DVD software to convert PPT into MPEG2 for writing to DVDs.

Start by working with the software and discover how they want you to add the narration to the disc. Do they want something recorded and synced with the PPT? Do they want audio clips included with the PPT? I tried poking around their website and didn't see anything that mentioned adding audio.

DO NOT BUY ANYTHING until you figure out how your PPT2DVD software is designed to use audio. In any case, it appears that you will either need to record ON a computer or import audio files INTO the computer since you want the tracks as "voice-over" for the computer-based content (PPT slides).

If you are recording directly to the computer, you solution could be as simple and inexpensive as this (refurb) Audio-Technica ATR-35. $12.
Audio-Technica ATR-35 Omnidirectional Condenser Lavalier Microphone (FACTORY REFURBISHED) |BuyDig.com

NEVER use a wireless microphone when a wired microphone will work. This is a UNIVERSAL rule and is applicable in ALL cases. Now if you can afford only one microphone and you frequently have shots where you must use wireless, then so be it. But your stated parameters appear to be nothing like that case.

Now, it might be the case that it would make sense to record the narration on your camcorder. Aim the camera at the computer screen so you have a "scratch" (unused in the final production) record of which narration goes with which slide).

If you also anticipate making live-action videos, then you would need an audio interface to your camcorder (such as the suggested BeachTek or equivalent) and microphone(s) and cables, etc. If you want useful specific advice in this area, it would be good to give us a little better idea of what you anticipate shooting.

If you anticipate doing a lot of recording voice-overs for videos (whether live-action or PPT) then something like an Audio-Technica AT2020USB is a quite respectable microphone even for recording professional voice talent, and it plugs right into the computer USB. ($150)
Audio-Technica - Products - Microphones by Series - 20 Series - AT2020 USB

I would get an articulated desk arm (like K&M 23850) to hold the microphone in the right place vs. that little toy "tripod" that the AT2020USB comes with. ($140)
K&M | 23850 Broadcast Microphone Desk Arm and | 23850-300-55
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Old January 15th, 2010, 12:50 PM   #26
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The AT2020 is a good option. One limitation is the length of a USB cable, unless you daisy chain through some USB hubs. If you use a USB/Firewire interface, you can use a 25-foot or longer XLR cable between it and the mic.

One nice thing about a PC solution is that you can record stand alone wave files (like on a portable recorder), but you can also record directly into whatever app you are using. That gives you the most flexibility in how you get the audio into your target tools.

The portable recorder and external mic gives you the most flexibility in where you record. Setup will be fast and easy, and you'll have no PC fan to deal with.

For a recorder with XLR inputs at a reasonable price, look at the Zoom H4n, and recorders from Tascam and Marantz. If you have access to a recorder with a 1/8" mic input, but no XLR inputs or phantom power, you can add a juicedLink preamp to give you XLRs/phantom and boost the signal cleanly. Personally, I own the M-Audio Microtrack II, which has terrible preamps, and the juicedLink transforms the Microtrack II into a viable recorder. But considering the fixed battery and lack of built-in mic, I don't recommend the Microtrack.

In any case, use an external mic for this project. Internal mics are fine for general stuff and recording lectures for later review, but for good voice recordings, use a large cardioid mic or a dynamic mic designed for voice overs (not a stage mic).
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Old January 15th, 2010, 01:15 PM   #27
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I have had excellent results with using the camera as a field recorder then splitting the audio off of the video in edit (this was when I just started shooting video).

I then moved to a M-Audio Microtrack II and hd battery issues as well, now I use a Fostex FR2-LE field recorder to record voice narrations and audio.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 01:38 PM   #28
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Good point re backing up to the original objective.

The PPT2DVD page says that it will produce DVD or video file (AVI/MOV) so IF it works as advertised, producing a video file would then allow doing a VO in the conventional way.

Power Point itself will allow sound capture with a slide or if you insert an existing clip it has the ability to automatically play the audio when the page is displayed. PowerPoint also has the ability to produce a CD with slides and audio as well as a viewer if the presentation is intended to be played on a computer rather than a DVD player. However, there may not be any desire to alter the existing PPT presentation.

There are also a few Samson USB mics for around $100. One of my friends has one and it isn't so bad.

My personal preference though is an XLR mic through an interface of some kind a) because I already have XLR mics (:-) and because it gives a lot of choices - which may be either a blessing or a curse(:-)
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Old February 2nd, 2010, 02:26 PM   #29
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Thanks to all that have responded and offered suggestions.

Sorry itís taken me so long to update but Iíve been out of pocket and am just now getting a chance to respond.

Okay, hereís what Iím thinking. Please tell me where Iím going wrong and what if anything that I have right.

1. I like the idea of the Sony PCM D-50. It gives me flexibility to record almost anywhere. How I would use it Ė to record the audio for the converted Power Point presentations. We canít really record to one of our desktops, very noisy environments. So I could take the talent to a quiet place in our building to record.

2. I like the idea of the Sony ECM-44B. It gives us the opportunity to use it to do the voiceovers and to record directly into our video camera using the Beachtek DXA-2S.

Now, can I use the Sony ECM-44B to record into the PCM D-50? If so, then it looks as if I have all my bases covered. I can use the camera to record as well as do the voiceovers in a quiet place.

Once again, thanks for yíalls help and any other suggestions would be great if you see that Iím really botching it here.

Please let me know if all this will work,

Andy
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Old February 4th, 2010, 12:38 PM   #30
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I just did a conversion of 2 DPA 4060. So that they can connect directly to any "plug-in power" recording devices, such as PCM-D50 or camcorder. With a custom built box, I can also power the DPA 4060 with phantom power and deliver balanced signal to the pre or recorder.
I don't know if there's any stock product provide this flexibility.
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